Explore the most popular trail running trails near Gallatin Gateway with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

Nice hike. Trail got a little slippery because of snowmelt and a light rain.

Loved the trail but be prepared for stepping over rocks the whole way!

Amazing little trail. I hiked it in the winter with tennis shoes and Yak Tracks. My feet were soaked at the end. Next time I will wear my new waterproof hiking boot. The trail is about 5 miles but you can continue along to Hyalite or other trails. It winds along and crosses a creek. I believe cross-country skies and/or snow shoes might be needed when it snows. The trail was packed for me. More can be found on my blog post (https://www.brisul.com/blog/2018/1/29/south-cottonwood-creek-trail-bozeman-mt)

Beautiful hike, we went beginning of April so there was still a lot of snow and trails were icy in spots. I can’t imagine how beautiful it is in the summer!

Pretty hike up to Lava Lake. The route is a nice, casual incline throughout the entirety.

Made this hike on a weekday in August 2000 (5 stars) and then again on a weekend in 2016 (4 stars). I would not do it again on a weekend due to the heavy trail use.
The moderate hike is very tolerable due to the shade. My legs grew more tired from the descent than the climb.
If you like wildlife, golden mantled ground squirrels and american pika are around when it's quiet. It was a lot of fun to watch them. The lake is gorgeous with the talus slopes and peaks in the distance.

Really long and tough. We were in good shape with two collegiate track athletes and it took us 10 hours. The rim is actually a bunch of up and downs with the final push going up 700’ at 30• and there is still 8 or 9 miles to go after that. Bring lots of water. There is none at the top. Views are beautiful. No wildlife.

If going in the winter time you will want some sort of micro spikes or yak traks. Very packed trail that can be basically a solid sheet of ice. Beautiful to see in the winter.

Absolutely beautiful hike, giant boulders moss covered trees! Hot during the day, but absolutely freezing at night, especially the camping sites near the water. Great camp spot!

Beautiful hike. Easy pace with a nice mix of flat and climb. Snow on last 20 minutes of climb made it very challenging. Trail was busy when I started at noon so compacted snow was very slippery especially on the decent. Personally witnessed two slips/falls.

7 months ago

Bring bear spray! Had a grizzly bear encounter at 1am on the morning of 10/17 (Bear circled our tent for an hour and a half). Hike up isn't bad, it's steep and the back half was frozen with snow. Once at the top the view of the lake is beautiful. Coming back down the trail the steeper sections of the the trail that are iced were hard to get down. All in all a nice trail but bring bear spray as the grizzly there is massive and isn't afraid to get up close and personal.

7 months ago

Large grizzly entered campsite late at night, bring bear spray. If camping, be careful about where you cook. Last 1/3 of the trail was iced over and very slippery in the morning. Beautiful scenery at the lake, definitely worth the hike.

Very rocky approach, great tent spots on the right side of the lake before the peninsula. No campfires allowed within half mile of the lake. No accumulated snow at the lake yet (9/30/17)

The hike was definitely harder than I thought it would be. I consider myself fairly in shape but was dripping sweat most the way up. Was relieved to find some snow toward the top to help cool me off..finally got to the lake and it was absolutely beautiful. Very well worth the hike!!!

The reviews were accurate for this one, "Moderate" and "Worth it." We hiked 8 miles before doing this hike (not recommended before this specific trail) so it was fairly hard but I think we would have been okay otherwise. The stream that runs along near the trail is pretty and the grade gets a little tricky. Most of the incline is near the end though. Then you see this gorgeous lake!

(With the current wildfires, you may want to check air quality depending on how clear of a view you want up there.)

Very rocky path that doesn't clear up until the end. Beautiful lake at the end.

Beautiful hike. Loved the reward of a peaceful lake at the end!

This is a pretty intense hike with all the rocks but totally worth it at the top. Weekends are busy and crowded.

Shady. Good trail. Lots of dogs off leash. And a whole lotta dog sh*t.

The view from the peak is amazing! Be sure to keep going to the true Big Horn peak towards Skyline trail. It's definitely worth the extra 10 min walk.

This is a 6 mile hike took 2:30 hours up and about 1:45 down. It's a great hike make sure to cool your feet at the top and the bottom

Beautiful trail by running water and then a great payoff at end with a stunning lake

This trail took us by surprise - It's actually 6 miles in total, with 1600ft of elevation change each way. We had a mixed group skill level wise - but it was worth every earned step! We made sure each person made it up by taking breaks throughout the accent. The lake is absolutely PRICELESS - super peaceful, super relaxing. I would recommend spending at least a few hours at the top - coming back down is a cake walk though, all downhill!

Great hike! Lake was super beautiful. Headed out early to avoid traffic. Lots of people on the way down. Ran into some old friends, which was a great surprise!

A beautiful trail that seemed to be about 60% rocky and 40% compacted dirt. The grade wasn't awful, just a steady incline from bottom to top. We hiked the trail with kids ranging from 9 to 15.

The lake at the top is a great payoff and made the hike well worth it. I would guess the lake is about a half mile in length and 200 yards wide. There is a nice little beach on the east side of the lake about 1/3 of the way down that made for a great swimming spot for the kids. They said the water was brisk but not near as cold as the Gallatin River at the trailhead.

Challenging but rewarding hike! Bring plenty of water!

A moderately challenging hike, steep in sections and the path is rocky in quite a few places. The reward at the end of the trail is magnificent however. The lake is picturesque and a fabulous place to gaze at the beauty of the Montana landscape. There are a few small streams on the way up we used to refresh and water ourselves. We worked quite hard and made it to the lake in around 1 1/2 hours. I would recommend taking it slower however...pace yourself!

nice trail, very few people on trail. The trail is a little bit more strenous the we were expecting, but the payoff is worth it the vuees of the lake are spectacular.

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